EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The start to the 2022 season went about as poorly as it could have gone for UTEP.

The Miners opened one of the most highly-anticipated seasons in recent memory with a 31-13 home loss to North Texas in week 0. If that wasn’t difficult enough, things get even harder in week one.

UTEP will hit the road to face 9th-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT on FOX. The Sooners will be opening up the Brent Venables era, after Lincoln Riley left for USC in the offseason.

The Miners have to turn the page from their first-game flop, but battling a top-10 team is about as rough of a turnaround as any team could have. Oklahoma is a 31.5-point favorite as of Monday afternoon; the prospect of UTEP starting the season 0-2 is a likely one.

With that though, UTEP is going into the game feeling like it has nothing to lose, which is sometimes the best place to be as an underdog team.

“Any time you play a top-10 team as a Group of Five team, I think that’s part of the mentality you take,” said head coach Dana Dimel on Monday. “No one is expecting you to win and so you do go into it with the mentality that, ‘hey, if we can pull off the victory it’d be a great thing for our program.’ It’s a great opportunity.”

UTEP stumbled against North Texas thanks in part to its inability to finish drives. The Miners made it to the red zone on three different occasions, but only managed a pair of field goals out of it. A bad snap on fourth and goal from the one-yard line ruined another chance in the red zone.

Additionally, the Miners’ Tyrin Smith dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass from Gavin Hardison in the second quarter; UTEP also couldn’t find the end zone after Praise Amaewhule recovered a fumble on the North Texas nine-yard line.

It was those miscues that UTEP was lamenting on Saturday and again on Monday, as they look to find more success in the red zone moving forward.

“It’s just executing our plays and finding ways to get in there. It’s a battle in the red zone, the defense is going to be playing a little bit harder so we have to execute and play harder to get in the end zone,” said UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison.

Oklahoma may not be the game where UTEP is able to improve in terms of its red zone efficiency, but despite the game one defeat, the Miners are confident they’ll still be able to accomplish many of the goals they set in the preseason.

After a sellout crowd of over 45,000 fans packed the Sun Bowl to see the North Texas game, the Miners will need to put on a better performance in later home games to see a turnout like that again.

“We’ll prove what we’re about and we’ll play good football. This is a good football team and they’ll prove themselves as the season goes along. That game didn’t go our way, but we’ll be playing really good football down the stretch,” said Dimel.

Linebackers Breon Hayward and Gary Theard and cornerback Torey Richardson did not appear on the Miners depth chart on Monday, after all three missed the North Texas game. Theard and Richardson are injured; Hayward is still waiting to hear from the NCAA regarding a waiver for a sixth season of eligibility. Dimel would not give an update on the status of any of those three players on Monday.

UTEP will practice in El Paso all week, before leaving for Norman on Friday and kicking off on national television on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s very exciting, it’s a big school known for their victories, but we shouldn’t just go there with the mindset that we’re just going to hang around, we’re going up there trying to win,” said redshirt sophomore running back Deion Hankins.